Book Review: The Phoenix of Florence by Philip Kazan

The Phoenix of FlorenceAbout the Book

15th century Italy, deep in the Tuscan countryside, a long-held feud between two aristocratic families ends in tragedy, leaving only one young girl alive. Having barely escaped with her life, she vows to survive at all costs…

Years later, amidst the winding streets and majestic facades of Florence, two murders are not all they seem. As Onorio Celavini, commander of the Medici police force, investigates, he is horrified to find a personal connection to the crimes, and a conspiracy lurking beyond. The secrets of his past threaten to spill out and Celavini is forced to revisit the traumatic memories hidden deep within him to lay the ghosts of history to rest.

Format: Hardcover (pp.)    Publisher: Allison & Busby
Published: 21st February 2019      Genre: Historical Fiction

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My Review

I absolutely loved Philip Kazan’s The Black Earth (read my review here) and have his previous two books – Appetite and The Painter of Souls  – in my TBR pile. Therefore I approached The Phoenix of Florence with a sense of eager anticipation. I’m happy to report I was not disappointed. Far from it. I loved every compelling page of the book.

Based on the book description, you’d be right in expecting an intriguing historical mystery, an enigmatic central character and an evocative depiction of 15th century Tuscany. However it’s a fair bet that, like me, you won’t be expecting everything that unfolds.

As Onorio Celavini diligently and methodically embarks on the investigation into two deaths, a name is mentioned that triggers very personal and painful memories from the past. Suddenly the story is moving in an entirely different but totally enthralling direction. The reader gains an insight into many of the perplexing facets of Onorio’s character: the source of his disturbing “soldier’s dreams”, his remarkable expertise at fencing, the reason for his decision to live alone and the origin of the scars people cannot fail to notice.

It seems Onorio has much to hide, things he is fearful may be revealed. “Like all things, concealment becomes a habit.” In fact, concealment and imitation are themes that run through the book, whether by necessity, through treachery or by inclination.

The Phoenix of Florence is a compelling, powerful, multi-layered historical mystery that serves up one unexpected delight after another. There are action-packed scenes of battle, insights into the life of a mercenary and the politics of Florence, as well as evocative descriptions of landscape and details of everyday life that really immerse the reader in the period. I absolutely loved it. Historical fiction fans, this is one to look out for when it’s published on 21st February 2019.

My grateful thanks to Allison and Busby for my proof copy.

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In three words: Compelling, immersive, powerful

Try something similar…The Poison Bed by E. C. Fremantle (read my review here)

Philip Kazan GRAbout the Author

PHILIP KAZAN was born in London and grew-up on Dartmoor. He is the author of two previous novels set in fifteenth-century Florence and the Petroc series following a thirteenth-century adventurer. After living in New York and Vermont, Philip is back on the edge of Dartmoor with his wife and three children. (Photo credit: Goodreads author page)

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4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Phoenix of Florence by Philip Kazan

  1. OOOO! This sounds amazing. I lived in Florence for a year when I was twenty and now spend six months each year in Tuscany, so this is exciting. Definitely one for my list and I shall tell my Tuscan-living friends about it too. Thanks for the review!

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